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World's Largest Mud Eruption Mystery Revealed

World's Largest Mud Eruption Mystery Revealed

A victim of the Lapindo mud volcano takes part in a theatrical performance on a retaining dike in Sidoarjo, East Java on May 29, 2012. (Juni Kriswanto/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 18 October 2017 10:13 AM

The mystery surrounding the world’s largest mud eruption has finally been solved, scientists say.

For 11 years the vents on the Indonesian island of Java have been expelling around 3 million cubic feet of mud every day, UPI noted.

It first began in 2006, when mud, water, rocks and gas started pouring from these vents in the ground, causing devastation to nearby villages and rice fields as residents were forced to evacuate and eventually construct levees in a desperate attempt to control the eruptions.

Now scientists may have figured out why these eruptions, named Lusi, have not stopped.

Publishing their findings in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, researchers have discovered that a system of faults link the vents and mud flows to the magma chamber of nearby volcanic complex, Arjuno-Welirang.

Essentially the organic-rich sediment underneath Lusi was being "baked" by the scorching magma from the Arjuno-Welirang volcano.

This process generated gas that became trapped below the surface, building pressure, and it took an earthquake to trigger that pressure to erupt.

Adriano Mazzini, a geoscientist at CEED – University of Oslo and lead author of the new study, said in a news release that their research shows that "the whole system was already existing there – everything was charged and ready to be triggered."

Mazzini and his team used a network of 31 seismometers to collect data around Lusi and the neighboring volcanic complex and then map out the area below.

They found that a tunnel flowed from the northernmost of Arjuno-Welirang’s magma chambers into the sedimentary basin where Lusi is located.

Magma and hydrothermal fluids originating in the mantle are able to flow through this tunnel and then mix with Lusi’s sediments, causing gas to generate at high pressures below the earth’s surface.

It would take something like the 2006 earthquake that shook the island to trigger this system to erupt.

Driving these eruptions is a massive magma chamber and, taking this into account, scientists believe Lusi is not going to stop anytime soon.

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The mystery surrounding the world's largest mud eruption has finally been solved, scientists say.
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Wednesday, 18 October 2017 10:13 AM
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